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BizReport : Social Marketing : May 16, 2011

Brands get their social game on

McDonald's have done it and Lady Gaga is about to do it and, according to a report from eMarketer, many more brands will soon be doing it. Doing what? Tapping into social gaming, that's what.

by Helen Leggatt

FarmVille had a Mac Attack courtesy of McDonald's and GagaVille will soon bring the popstar's whacky-tackiness to a farm near you on Zynga's social gaming network.

These brands, and more, have jumped on one of the fastest-growing activities on social networks in the last year or so - social gaming.

According to recent research from eMarketer, 53 million Internet users in the US alone played social games at least once a month during 2010. That number is forecast to rise to over 68 million, or 30% of the US online population, by 2012.

Increasingly, brands are inserting themselves into social games through virtual goods, in-game advertising, player exclusives, coupons and campaigns that tie in real-world goods with players' in-game achievements or participation.

In-game advertising has moved on from the days of brazen billboards. They key to inserting a brand into today's social games is the ability to seamlessly fit within the gaming environment.

Previous research has found gamers receptive, even welcoming, of in-game advertising or marketing efforts that add to the game such as product placements or branded virtual goods.

Facebook is set to launch a new in-game ad vehicle - sponsored video. The program involves a partnership with TrialPay and their ad platform Dealspot. Facebook gamers will be paid, in Facebook credits, to watch the videos.

The videos can be closed down at any point but only players that watch the video in its entirety get paid.

Tags: brand awareness, brand marketing, Facebook, gamers, in-game advertising, social games, social network, virtual goods

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